THE WORLD'S ONLY MAGAZINE DEVOTED EXCLUSIVELY TO THE BUSINESS OF BOWLING
PUBLISHER & EDITOR Scott Frager firstname.lastname@example.org Skype: scottfrager
8 SHORTS • Walking for BVL • 300 games come in all sizes • Bowling for Braille Books at Novi Bowl • AWBA competes at USBC Open Championships • People Watching at LAI Games, ZOT, & FetchRev
BEYOND BOWLING 42 According to George: Attention on Success
46 Feature: Christian
Toulouse, Quebec’s other FEC pioneer
52 Interesting Interview: Michael Nowak
56 Center Stage:
Sleeping Like A King
By Patty Heath
ASSOCIATE PUBLISHER David Garber email@example.com
OFFICE MANAGER Patty Heath firstname.lastname@example.org
CONTRIBUTORS Patty Heath Evan Henerson Patricia Kleibrink Thompson George McAuliffe Howard McAuliffe Robert Sax Marci Williams
EDITORIAL DIRECTOR Jackie Fisher email@example.com
A Coach’s Coach Billy Murphy makes Newman University and the sport of bowling proud
F2FEC 2019 Hits New Heights, then Presses Pause The Three Amigos will re-imagine the beloved conference
By Marci Williams
By Robert Sax
70 REMEMBER WHEN 1982 Kessler American Blended Whiskey
In a League of Their Own
By Patty Heath
Giving back to those who sacrificed for our country By Pamela Kleibrink Thompson
65 Classifieds 32 COVER STORY Knocking Them Down for 106 Years
FOUNDER Allen Crown (1933-2002)
P.O. Box 7350 Overland Park, KS 66207 (818) 789-2695(BOWL) Fax (818) 789-2812 firstname.lastname@example.org
HOTLINE: 818-789-2695 SUBSCRIPTION RATES: One copy of International Bowling Industry is sent free to every bowling center, independently owned pro shop and collegiate bowling center in the U.S., and every military bowling center and pro shop worldwide. Publisher reserves the right to provide free subscriptions to those individuals who meet publication qualifications. Additional subscriptions may be purchased for delivery in the U.S. for $60 per year. Subscriptions for Canada and Mexico are $65 per year, all other foreign subscriptions are $80 per year. All foreign subscriptions should be paid in U.S. funds using International Money Orders. POSTMASTER: Please send new as well as old address to International Bowling Industry, P.O. Box 7350 Overland Park, KS 66207 USA. If possible, please furnish address mailing label. Printed in U.S.A. Copyright 2019, B2B Media, Inc. No part of this magazine may be reprinted without the publisher’s permission.
MEMBER AND/OR SUPPORTER OF:
Cultivating community at The Garden Bowl in Detroit
www.dzynwrx.com (818) 735-9424
By Evan Henerson
ART DIRECTION & PRODUCTION Designworks
VIDEO GAME BARSTAURANT & BOWLING
EXPANSIONS, OPENINGS & NEW BEGINNINGS
Wrigley Field adjacent is not new for Lucky Strike Social; there is a Fenway Park adjacent in Boston. The 30,000-square-foot project, Lucky Strike Social at Wrigleyville, has opened in Chicago with eight lanes of bowling and more than 100 arcade games. The food is up-scale. There are two private party rooms, a 56-foot bar, plus 86 12-inch, 4k televisions, and two 12-foot by 7-foot LED video walls. Cubâ€™s baseball games will not be overlooked.
A SHAKE AND BAKE COMEBACK Shake and Bake Family Fun Center was shuttered by the city of Baltimore in 2017. The re-done skating area, arcade, and concessions were re-opened six months later. All well and good, however, downstairs there remained bowling lanes wanting to be used. The city hired Brunswick Bowling Products to upgrade the lanes, televisions, and other equipment and now the 22 lanes are open for business. The fun center is complete.
A SHAKE AND BAKE COMEBACK Shake and Bake Family Fun Center was shuttered by the city of Baltimore in 2017. The re-done skating area, arcade, and concessions were re-opened six months later. All well and good, however, downstairs there remained bowling lanes wanting to be used. The city hired Brunswick Bowling Products to upgrade the lanes, televisions, and other equipment and now the 22 lanes are open for business. The fun center is complete.
A birds-eye view of the soft opening for the new Decades restaurant, bar, arcade, and bowling lanes in Lancaster, PA. There are six boutique bowling lanes, a retro game arcade and F & B.
BOWLERO, BOWLERO, AND MORE BOWLERO Bowlero was created in 2013 following the merger of Bowlmore Lanes and AMF Bowling Worldwide. The portfolio includes Bowlero, Bowlmore Lanes, AMF Bowling Co., and Brunswick Zone. Bowlero can be found throughout the U.S., Mexico, and Canada. Bowlero Fairview in Fairview, TX, recently opened with 17 lanes offering vintage Edison light fixtures, herringbonepatterned floors, and Now opened, Bowlero dramatic wall graphics. It Fairview, TX also offers a state-of-theart arcade with more than 25 games, plus old-school favorites like billiards. Bowlero Wilmington, Wilmington, DE, is open for business. It features retro-surfer styling, video panels and 52 blacklight lanes and a cosmic look when the lights are turned down and video screens turned up. Bowlero Wilmington boasts 32 interactive arcade games. It is the first Bowlero in Delaware. Bowlero Tuscaloosa, Tuscaloosa, AL, is the first of the brand in Alabama. AMF Bama Lanes closed to staff the companyâ€™s new center. Unfortunately, the last remaining independent center, Leland Lanes, is also thinking of closing. More is yet to come. In the fall, Crystal City, VA, will have a 32-lane Bowlero, with a full bar and restaurant.
FILM ALLEY IS OPEN Terrell, TX, 30 miles east of downtown Dallas, welcomed Film Alley Movie Entertainment Center to The Crossroads, an up-and-coming entertainment area, in March. The 74,000-squarefoot facility offers eight dine-in auditoriums with recliner seats which show first-run movies. There are also 24 bowling lanes, a 4,500-square-foot arcade with a gift shop, and a restaurant, 5S Rock Bar and Grille, which produces 90 percent of its menu from scratch.
PEOPLEWATCHING LAI Games has promoted Tabor Carlton to marketing director, replacing Mark Easte who has assumed the role of managing director. Tabor has an extensive 20-year background in graphic design, video production, campaign development, and advertising. Tabor will develop LAI Games’ marketing strategy, maximize the Tabor Carlton department’s ROI, and continue to build brand awareness. Previously Tabor worked with Helix Leisure overseeing branding and graphic design for Helix’s companies Embed, The Locker Network, and LAI Games. Prior to that, he worked as a contractor, working closely with Embed. PJ Rosendahl, owner/president, of ZOT ColorSplash announced the appointment of Zachary (Zach) Parmer as AV and ColorSplash project manager. Parmer will be responsible for all technical and product aspects for ZOT customers as they relate to AV and ColorSplash LED Lighting Systems, including software training. He Zach Parmer previously worked for S.W.A.G., an audiovisual company, where he oversaw the installation of AV equipment and ColorSplash LED Lighting Systems, along with software programming for several Urban Air Trampoline Parks. His experience also includes a nuclear machinist with the U.S. Navy. Darschelle Thomas, office manager and more recently VP of finance, retired after almost 30 years with ZOT Pinsetter Parts. She was the first contact customers had and, she served them and ZOT admirably. “I would like to thank Darschelle for her dedication and immeasurable contribution towards the success
WALKING FOR BVL David Kellerman, co-owner of Mel’s Lone Star Lanes in Georgetown, TX, set his sights on the 2,190-mile Appalachian Trail to raise funds for BVL, bowling’s charity supporting recreation therapy grants to VA hospitals and clinics. His journey began April 3, on Springer Mountain, GA, and is expected to conclude on Mt. Katahdin, ME, in late August/early September. Moving northbound, he will trek through 14 states over six months. It is the most ambitious, individual fundraising event yet for BVL. Kellerman will be hiking under the trail name Kilroy, a nod to the World War II iconic “Kilroy Was Here” expression 10
of ZOT since joining the company in 1989,” said PJ Rosendahl. Thomas will be relocating to San Diego, CA, to be closer to her family. Dar Thomas
ZOT Pinsetter Parts has promoted Debbie Rosendahl to executive vice president/CFO. She was formerly the company’s customer relations manager and system’s analyst. Rosendahl also runs a route business with ZOT GlossBoss ball conditioners placed in centers in Colorado. Rounding out her background, she was a bowler of note and former member of the PWBA, plus a fifteen-year career in banking and eleven Debbie Rosendahl years in retail, mostly in the golf industry. FetchRev, an Arizona-based SaaS company, has added two new team members: Cassidy Lujan, director of sales operation, and Matt Egan, director of channel sales. These two will facilitate the company’s new global partner program which began April 1. This partner program Matt Egan has four distinct channels which include referral, resellers, integration partners, and a certification track. They are designed around marketing automation, POS systems, marketing services, and other professional services. Cassidy Lujan
and graffiti that was used by U.S. troops. “I want to serve them [veterans] now; I want to give back,” Kellerman said. The 56-year-old is determined to be one of the few who actually completes the challenging thru-hike. Mary Harrar, BVL executive director, plans to meet up with Kellerman this summer when his journey runs through Pennsylvania, and she will hike with him for about 10 miles. To donate and follow Kellerman’s journey, visit the Kilroy’s Appalachian Trail Hike for Veterans Facebook page or BVL.org.
Communities thrive through bowling. It gathers people for parties and events supporting community. Children and adults play together, having fun that reckons back to a simpler time. Here’s what’s been happening. Homelessness: Ryan Family Amusements welcomed Boston Bruins mascot, Blades, for the 12th annual Boston Bruins Pajama Drive, which collects brand new PJs for local children living in low income and homeless situations. Strike Out Homelessness was the goal at Bowlocity Entertainment Center in Rochester, MN, sponsored by Family Promise. The organization provides food and shelter for homeless families. City Limits East in Lansing, MI, greeted bowlers supporting Hanna’s House, a Christian maternity shelter for homeless pregnant women. The 4th annual Pins for PADS was held at Lakeside Recreation Center in Mundelein, IL. Proceeds went to benefit Lake County’s homeless residents. Lydia Place is committed to “no kids in cars.” It means providing emergency bed-nights in motels for unsheltered families with children. Bowling for Beds was held at 20th Century Bowling in Bellingham, WA. Support for community agencies: Gutter Busters was sponsored by the Rock County Sheriff’s Office and held at Rivers Edge Bowl, Janesville, WI. The goal was to create positive relationships with law enforcement officers and to learn how to bowl. First responders and hospital staff bowled for Heroes in Action, sponsored by ProMedica Transportation
Network. This was the seventh year for the outreach to veterans and military families. The funds are directed to a different service-oriented charity each year. It was held at Southwyck Lanes in Toledo, OH. Shield 616 is a national non-profit founded by law enforcement officers for law enforcement officers. Grand Junction Police Department, Grand Junction, CO, held Bowling for the Badge at Orchard Mesa Lanes. The goal was to donate 120 sets of rifle-rated body armor, protecting officers from high caliber bullets. Covering cancer: 3rd annual Strike Out Breast Cancer Tournament was held at Sunrise Strikes in Zanesville, OH, and hosted by the Zanesville USBC. All the proceeds raised were donated to the Zanesville Cancer Center. Strike Out Cancer was the theme for Relay for Life, held at Crown Lanes Bowling Alley in Leavenworth, KS. The 8th annual fundraiser, Bowling for Brains, took place at Bowlero Lakeville in Lakeville, MN. Since its inception in 2011, the event has raised more than $100,000. The non-profit Reach Out for Life held its fourth Bowling for Boobs at Bowl America in Short Pump, VA. The 18th annual Bowlin’ for Colons spread out over Wisconsin centers. The fundraiser benefits gastrointestinal cancer research. Participating centers were in: Madison, Fitchburg, Monona, Sun Prairie, Waupun, and Marshfield. A faith-based women’s motorcycle club enjoyed an afternoon raising funds for locals battling cancer in Grand Junction, CO, at Freeway Bowl.
What is your center doing? Email Patty Heath at email@example.com.
BRAILLE BOOKS FOR CHILDREN STRIKES IT BIG Novi Bowl Family Entertainment Center in Novi, MI, was the place to be for the 32nd annual Bowling for Braille Books. Between sponsors, donors, and bowlers, $54,000 was raised which will afford 5,400 braille books for blind children. Braille books are rare and usually very expensive, often costing more than $100 for one book. Seedlings Braille Books for Children is a Livonia, MI, nonprofit which provides free and low-cost braille books. Every $10 raised allows Seedlings to produce one book. The event had nearly 200 bowlers participating in the 9-pin, no-tap event. 12
AWBA COMPETES AT USBC OPEN CHAMPIONSHIPS The American Wheelchair Bowling Association (AWBA) competed for the first time at the 2019 USBC Open Championships at the South Point Bowling Plaza in Las Vegas. During the weekend of March 15, more than 50 competitors vied in team, doubles, and singles competition. The event, which runs for 122 days from March 9 – July 8, features three average-based divisions for bowlers of all skill levels. The AWBA members not only bowled for the event’s Eagle trophies but also competed among themselves for special AWBA Weekend awards. The AWBA was founded in 1961 by Richard Carlson and has more than 500 members who compete in eight regional tournaments throughout the year.
IN ALL SIZES
WATCH BOWLING IN 5” HEELS Birthday party: check. Bowling center: check. Bowling ball: check. Hot pink, feather mini dress: check. 5” heels: check. Dua Lipa, an English singer/songwriter known for “One Kiss,” “New Love,” and “Be the One,” went bowling with her beau, Issac Carew, model/chef, at the Croc in Soho, London, to celebrate Carew’s birthday. Lipa, who is 5’8”, rocked the scene in 5” skyscraper, metallic heels. The height, 6’3”, didn’t seem to hurt her game.
A strike is a very satisfying thing. A lot of strikes is even better. And, a game of all strikes is perfection. Kai Strothers is 10 years old. He hails from New Jersey and bowls at Jersey Lanes in Linden. He bowls a lot. According to his mother, Sharonda, “He eats, sleeps, and drinks bowling. That’s
THE NEW YORK THEATER SCENE Currently at Public Theater in New York is a play by Suzan-Lori Parks called White Noise. It is about racism, historical determinism, and the psychological determinism of parents. It is directed by Oskar Eustis with set design by Clint Ramos. The nearly bare stage is convincingly made to look like a bowling alley where the action takes place.
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what he wants to do all the time.” In January, Kai did it big time. With his ball dubbed “Idol,” he bowled a perfect 300, making him the youngest person in New Jersey to complete the feat in a league completion and the second in the country. Last year, Strothers won the Eastern Regionals while competing against many kids who were in high school. The Penn State bowling team has bragging rights for three 300 games in one night. It was at Berks Lanes in Reading, PA. The coach had one of the games and the other two were divided between the men and the women. Three is good but two in one night by one person is a WOWer too. In January, Curtis Foss bowled two 300 games at Oak Orchard Lanes in Albion, NY. Two months later, in Wisconsin, 19-year-old Cole Brenstein achieved the same feat at Bangor Lanes in Bangor. Adults not to be outdone in the perfection arena were brothers, Sean and Eric Kilburn, from Keene, NH, who bowled 300 games back to back on the same team in league play. A Vermont neighbor, veteran bowler Jon Wilbur, 36, did that 300 trick three times, back-toback-to-back, in league play at Rutland Bowlerama.
The Three Amigos close out Imagine with a discussion about the past and future of F2FEC. (l-r) George Smith, Rick Iceberg, Ben Jones and moderator Robert Sax.
Photos courtesy of Sealy Media
The Three Amigos will re-imagine the beloved conference By Robert Sax
his year’s F2FEC conference, held March 57 at the Broadmoor Resort in Colorado Springs, came in like the proverbial lion but did not go out like a lamb. Entitled Imagine, the fifth F2FEC explored how successful companies combine innovation, quality, freedom, choice, diversity, price, profits, purpose, morals, and more into the unique mix that is manifested in its soul, products, services, and outreach. The Three Amigos, Ben Jones, Rick Iceberg, and George Smith, drew on the past themes of Change or Die, 10X Better, Differentiate, and SOUL to push participants to dream new dreams and develop new insights. This year’s conference attendees numbered 300, ranging from more than 30 first-timers to those who had attended every one of the conferences to date. “Imagine is the culmination of everything we have sought since the beginning of F2FEC,” says event cofounder Jones. “It’s also how innovators learn from what they’ve experienced and use it to establish a plan
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for the future and grow with purpose.” The conference kicked off with a special keynote presentation from Paul Saginaw, co-founder of the Zingerman’s family specialty food businesses. Starting in 1982 with a single deli in Ann Arbor, MI,
Larry Treankler (L) shares inspiring tales of founding and growing BeyTek Amusements with host Ben Jones.
Jeff Schilling of Creative Works speaks about reimagining life
Zingerman’s now consists of more than a dozen food-related businesses. Among the insights he offered were the importance of a management style where all employees are “authorized to think” and solve problems on their own. Another key to the success of their businesses has been to “deliver the Zingerman’s experience” in everything they do. The first day’s highlights included Ben interviewing Larry Treankler, founder of Bay Tek Entertainment, on the history of the game-building company and the importance of people over process and leading by example. The interview was followed by Chris Albano and Jack Canouse, the founders of the Stars and Strikes chain, whose well-rehearsed twohander focused on how they were inspired to “build a company that outlives us.” The second day’s most heart-tugging moments were provided by local hero Jim Mundle of Overdrive Raceway in Colorado Springs, who opened by saying, “I want to talk to you about serving an underserved population, and that’s our disabled.” Mundle, who lost both legs to a staph infection and walks with protheses, recalled how he was once turned away from riding the roller coaster and other rides at a major Florida amusement park due to his disability. Not to be deterred, he bought a pair of sweat pants to hide his protheses and rode the rides anyway. He also swore that when he opened his own go-kart facility a few months later, he would be sure to make it available to all visitors. “I didn’t want anyone to go through what I went through,” he said. So Mundle made a hefty investment in four special electric karts with hand controls that don’t stint on speed and thrills. Many of his happy customers are disabled military vets from nearby Fort Carson, who enjoy the opportunity to go as fast, or faster, as anyone else. The final speaker on day two was Dr. Jeff Spencer, a former U.S. Olympian and cyclist who has mentored many winning athletes and successful business people. He delved into what it takes to develop the “champion’s mindset” that allows ordinary people to overcome the “human mindset,” move dreams and goals to achievement and become repeat winners. The Three Amigos returned at the end to wrap up F2FEC 2019 with 18
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a panel discussion that I moderated, during which they shared their thoughts on the first five years of the conference. They examined their origins, reviewed what they had learned about “being in the room,” shared notable comments from past participants, and discussed the future of the amusement industry. “If history is a proxy for the future, it’s time to capitalize on how we have re-imagined, renovated, differentiated, and repositioned our businesses for long term success,” said The Amigos. “It’s time now to build equity and liquidity and to protect our ability to remain relevant and stay viable.” Then Jones dropped the other shoe, revealing that The Amigos were taking a hiatus, putting F2FEC on pause to reimagine and reinvent the event. While there will not be an F2FEC in 2020, the Amigos
Paul Saginaw, co-founder of the Zingerman's family of specialty food businesses, presents the opening keynote address at F2FEC 2019.
promised to return soon, “Bigger, Badder, Bolder, Better, and Different.” After a stunned silence, the audience regained its composure and began to applaud in appreciation. While it was a bittersweet moment, it seemed many were already imagining the next iteration of F2FEC. As Jeff Benson of Cinergy said in his presentation on the first day, “Imagine if we quit taking risks … imagine, frankly, if we hadn’t imagined all those years ago.” He was referring to the evolution of his business, but he also neatly summed up F2FEC. Imagine the possibilities. ❖
Robert Sax is a writer and PR consultant in Los Angeles. He grew up in Toronto, Canada, the home of five-pin bowling.
In a League of Their Own Giving back to those who sacrificed for our country By Pamela Kleibrink Thompson huttered bowling alleys continue to serve their communities in a number of ways. In Charlotte, NC, one is converted into a furniture market; in Santa Fe, NM, an artist collective; in Boise, ID, a roller rink. And in Marion County, FL, the AMF Ocala Bowl located at 2730 E. Silver Springs Blvd. in Ocala was transformed into a one-stop shop for veterans’ services. The comprehensive resource center was the brainchild of Henry “Hank” Whittier, executive director of Marion County Veterans Helping Veterans, Inc. The Marine Corps veteran pitched the idea to the County Commission in 2013 of bringing service providers into a central site to make it easier and more convenient for veterans to receive services and assistance. “What we needed was a one-stop center,” stated Whittier. The abandoned bowling center was the perfect location right across from Veterans Park and less than a mile from the VA Clinic and on the bus route. Whittier was also a previous patron of Ocala Bowl. Rolando Sosa, architect and interior designer, described the transformation: “The entire building
was completely changed. The project consisted of a new roof system, new electrical, heating and air conditioning systems, new technology, new plumbing and new restrooms, offices, and support spaces. We even had to raise a portion of the floor as the existing flooring heights had some steps that were required for the bowling alley but did not work at all for this project.” Marion County purchased the 33,544-square-foot bowling alley in 2013 for more than $160,000. A $500,000 HUD Community Development Block Henry “Hank” Whittier, executive director of Marion County Veterans Helping Veterans, Inc. Grant was used to fund the demolition, remodeling, and upgrades; the county committed $800,000 for total cost of $1.3 million. The innovative renovation took about four months to design and half a year for construction. “Our work included programming (owner requirements for the project) for two distinct veterans’ groups who had a tight
The former AMF Ocala Bowl before renovations 22
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Renovated Ocala Vet Center
FEATURE Celebrating the opening
budget and schedule,” shared Sosa. “Their overriding concern was always how can we better serve our veterans in our community. We provided the veterans a great functional, cost effective, and attractive building that the community would be proud of.” “There are no other veteran centers like this in the state or the nation that we are aware of,” said former Marion County Commission Chairman Stan McClain, who championed the project. McClain bowled at the AMF Ocala Bowl when he was younger and later took his children there to bowl. McClain shared, “Some folks in the veteran community approached me with the idea of the county providing space for a one-stop veterans resource center. Veterans and their families were traveling to multiple locations across the county to get connected with needed services. I took the idea to my fellow commissioners and received unanimous approval to move forward with the project. It just made sense — this was an opportunity for local government to partner with the nonprofit sector to create something unique and something that tangibly helped our veterans. We are blessed that more than
45,000 veterans call Marion County home – that’s one in seven residents. I felt that if we had an opportunity to make it easier for them to receive services, then we should help make it happen. From that point on, I worked together with the Vets Helping Vets organization to make our vision of a Veterans Resource Center a reality.” Jeffrey Askew, director of the Marion County Veterans Services, is a 22-year veteran of the U.S. Navy, and is thankful for the spaciousness of the building. He noted that in the old building, vets with walkers, wheelchairs, and scooters couldn’t navigate the hallways. Askew appreciates the accessibility of the new Marion County Veterans Resource Center, which opened in May 2017. According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Florida has the largest veteran population in the country. Of the 67 counties in Florida, Marion County has the sixth highest percentage of veterans (13.49%) — more than 45,000 residents are veterans. Continued on page 26...
FEATURE ...continued from page 23
Consolidated in one location, government agencies, nonprofits, and private enterprises come together to offer a wide variety of resources and support to veterans of all ages. Here, military veterans and their families can find the Marion County Veterans Services, Veterans Helping Veterans, Veterans and Family Services, Volunteers of America, Women Vets in Crisis, CareerSource, Caliber Home Loans, Scott Young Insurance, Combat Boots to Careers and a group of ministers. The center makes it easier for veterans to get help finding a job, learn computer skills, or find instruction in nutrition and health, get a home loan or insurance. Services cover everything including mental health and life skills. Whittier noted, “The services to veterans have increased. And it’s great to be able to walk them down the hall and not send them across town. It wouldn’t have happened without this building. Most of the time, when veterans are referred to visit another organization, they never go. They get frustrated and never seek out the other (nonprofit) organizations. This will help with that.” McClain observed, “This resource center is one of the finest
examples of a community partnership I’ve seen, and one of the projects I’m most grateful to have been a part of.” Where members of bowling teams once entered the building, now a stunning 6-foot by 10-foot patriotic painting depicts the team spirit of veterans everywhere. The mural, created by ten artists in a partnership between the Ocala Art Group and Gallery East Art Center, depicts four men and a woman in uniform facing the American flag. “All of our mural team members feel gratitude for the dedication and sacrifice of veterans in all branches of the armed forces,” stated painter Jud Watkins, Gallery East member and former president of the Ocala Art Group. “A few of our team members are veterans themselves, many of us have veterans in our families, and we all wanted to show our gratitude for veterans everywhere.” Six huge fiberglass medallions, roughly six feet in diameter, representing the branches of the military services (United States Air Force, Coast Guard, Marine Corps, Army National 26
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Executive director Henry “Hank” Whittier and company celebrate the soft opening of the Ocala Vets Center
Guard, Navy, and Army), made by Johnson Fiberglass and painted by members of the Ocala Art Group, are installed on the front facade. Near the entrance, a plaque is inscribed: “Dedicated to the men and women who have served in the Armed Forces of the United States of America.” Sosa noted, “I personally learned a lot about our veterans and the comradery among the different military services which led to the design of the military service seals. All participants loved the idea, and although it was not part of the budget, they were able to secure funding to re-create the seals and they certainly make a lasting impact on the building’s design.” Askew concluded, “We represent all branches. We want to make sure every veteran is taken care of.” “What I like best about the building is the camaraderie,” shared Whittier. “Veterans have a home; a place they feel they belong. They feel comfortable. They feel welcome. The clients are much happier, and those providing services have a real sense of accomplishment, because we can get the veterans hooked up with everything, they need in one place.” Whittier plans to expand the feeding center and install a commercial oven. He also wants to increase the options for recreation including a weight lifting facility and a miniature bowling center. The center enables veterans to reconnect and interact with the same kind of people with whom they served. In its new incarnation, the renovated Ocala Bowl continues to serve the community as a center for veterans to find counseling, fellowship, clothing or maybe just a cup of coffee and some conversation. ❖ Pamela Kleibrink Thompson lives in Idaho. In addition to writing, she is a career coach and scenario role player for peace officer training. Pamela worked as a production manager on the Emmy Award-winning animated series The Simpsons, where she bowled regularly with members of the crew. She speaks on career issues at conferences all over the world. You can reach Pamela at PamRecruit@q.com.
S P O N S O R E D BY C R E AT I V E WO R K S
PLAN FOR SUCCESS AVOID THE THREE MOST DANGEROUS MISTAKES OF OPENING A LASER TAG ATTRACTION
aser tag is one of the most profitable attractions in the entertainment industry, especially when you do it right. But operators continue to make the same mistakes that cost them time, money, and profitability. Learn how to avoid these mistakes and set yourself up for continued long-term success.
MISTAKE ONE: FAILING TO PLAN FOR OPERATIONAL SUCCESS
Just opening a laser tag attraction isn’t enough to drive consistent results. You have to create an operational plan of action. This plan starts with staffing. If you want laser tag to drive traffic to your business, then staff it accordingly. Too many operators use floaters or expect the employee working the redemption counter to hop over and start laser tag games as needed. This is a huge mistake. Laser tag is supposed to be a complete experience for guests, and you’re charging good money for this experience. In addition to staffing, you must understand the fundamentals of the laser tag game rotation. A laser tag experience consists of multiple stages, each one just as important as the last: announcement, briefing, vesting, game play, de-vesting, and scores. Once you and your staff fully understand these stages, create a fixed laser tag game schedule. This will allow you to easily schedule your birthday parties, sell future games to walk-in traffic, and prevent lost revenue.
MISTAKE TWO: UNDERUTILIZING GAME VARIETY AND FEATURES
During busy weekends, you’ll likely only use one or two basic game modes. This makes it easier to explain the games to new players and young birthday parties and prevents your staff from getting behind schedule. But the slower weekdays provide the perfect opportunity to showcase different games.
You’re investing in amazing equipment. “Rev the engine” of this system during slower weeknights to encourage traffic. Create recurring weekly promotions during which you play new game modes; something like “Laser Tag Tuesdays.” These promoted events will boost profitability on weeknights that would otherwise be slow. As an added benefit, this will help you target your regulars and the adult/Millennial demographic. Adults generally don’t want to play laser tag with 12-year-olds celebrating a birthday, which is what happens on Saturday afternoons. If you create promotions specifically targeted toward this older crowd, you get to utilize more features of your equipment, bring in new demographics, and increase profitability.
MISTAKE THREE: IGNORING THE FUTURE
What happens after the honeymoon phase ends? With a little bit of planning up front, you can keep your guests excited and avoid hitting the one year wall. Use a 1/3/5 Plan. Plan for a small update one year in, a slightly larger update three years in, and a fairly big overhaul/addition five years in. This will show your customers that you’re reinvesting in their laser tag experience. It will also help you spread out the costs of the attraction, as you can make these investments over several years instead of going all-out at the beginning. ❖
Download a free laser tag report at www.thewoweffect.com/ibi
CREATIVE WORKS CAN HELP YOU MAKE A LONG-TERM PLAN.
S R A E Y 6 0 1 R O F N W O D M E H T G N I K C O N K oit r t e D n owl i B n e d r e Ga h T t a y unit m m o c ting Cultiva
By Evan Henerson
etroit’s most historic center – also one of the nation’s oldest - is a majestic place. That’s not hot air. The 106-year-old Garden Bowl Detroit is part of The Majestic complex on Woodward Avenue that also includes two night clubs, a restaurant and, yes, the legendary Majestic Theatre. The fact that a visitor can dine, rock, imbibe, and bowl at the establishment run by the Zainea family is a testament to the family’s personality, grit, love of bowling, and one other key factor: “Perseverance,” said patriarch Joe Zainea. “I take great pride in the fact that we persevered.” In the 73 years that his family has owned and operated The Garden Bowl in the city’s midtown area, Joe, aka Papa Joe, has witnessed change within the industry as well as social and economic change with racial unrest, and the
IBI May 2019
COVER STORY deleterious effects of African American and Polish clientele fleeing for the suburbs. Now 85, Zainea continues to keep an eye on the business’s finances while his son Dave is the center’s general manager, and Dave’s brother, Joe serves up a mean pizza at the center’s Sgt. Pepperoni’s Pizzeria and Deli. Dave also uses the word perseverance. The Garden Bowl and the Majestic Detroit have seen their clientele come and go based on area redevelopment and the whim of industry trends. When the sport or the region changes, a proprietor has to evolve, and The Garden Bowl has done just that. The Zaineas will take on a new challenge at a very different venue; they will reopen Bowlero Lanes and Lounge in nearby Royal Oak in spring of 2019. “There’s a lot of trying new things, throwing things at the wall,” said Dave. “A lot of things don’t stick, but “Papa J some things do. We just made bowling a little more oe” cele brating of a unique opportunity — the whole environment the cen tury ma rk of Th between music, the flair of being downtown and the e Gard en Bow diversity of our area. I think the historical relevance of our l in 201 3 lanes on the first place helps, too. I think it builds a good brand for us.” floor, 12 upstairs and bookies Rock-n-Bowl has become a venue staple and the in the basement,” Papa Joe recalled. “They music is always playing somewhere in and around the had a hallway that led to commercial stores in front, Majestic. With an assortment of bands taking the stage theaters, and nickelodeons. Not too many women bowled at both the 1,200-seat Majestic and the 800-seat here at that time.” Magic Stick, concert-goers may start their evening at Papa Joe is the family historian and a frequent writer of The Garden Bowl or end up there for a post-show articles about both the Zainea family business and the history match. Needless to say, it’s a somewhat different and color of the region. The Zainea patriarch is a natural configuration and client makeup than when the raconteur and the stories (“I could write a thousand of them, family first took over. even today”) spill out of him like motor oil over thirsty gears. “When my dad bought this place in 1946, it was 10 He talks about the single room hotels (SROs) that housed the General Motors factory workers; the more than one million
COVER STORY people who lived within a implemented a Learn to Bowl program that three mile radius of the brought in new customers who, after they bowling center; the men learned the skill, would later become instructors who took their meals at The and then start building leagues out of their Garden Recreation and classes. bowled in the evenings. He In the summer of 1967,The Garden Bowl recounts the end of World War provided a front row seat to the five day II and the exodus to the Detroit race rebellion. As the city raged and suburbs, upwardly-mobile men burned, the Zaineas offered The Garden and women relocating up Base Bowl as a haven for law enforcement, fire Line, also known as 8 Mile Road. department, National Guard and The a e in “Everybody should aspire to Salvation Army. “Needless to say,” Papa a Z e av Joe,” and D be on a higher mile road so they Joe wrote in an article remembering the Joe, “Papa could prove their upward mobility rebellion, “our buildings were well protected.” A in life, and that’s what happened,” year later, Detroit residents of all colors shared the streets to Papa Joe said. “The Levittowns celebrate the Tigers winning the 1968 World Series. were torn down and nicer homes were built. Our Polish Patrons who come through the doors of The Garden Bowl are customers started leaving, and we had a terrible time. We greeted by an employee with a smile. It’s the Zainea way.“We would ask, ‘Why are you leaving? You’re friends of ours. teach our employees what my father taught me,” Papa Joe said. We go to your clubs, we go to the same church.’ They had “You look at everybody who comes through that front door and to leave. They were moving on up.” make an intuitive judgment. Do you want him or do you not want In the 1960s, The Garden Bowl began courting the him? Stare him in the eyes and don’t blink. If you don’t want him, African American population. The Zaineas offered The Garden Bowl as a place for church fundraisers and Continued on page 38...
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COVER STORY ...continued from page 34
just lower your voice and say, ‘Can I help you, Sir?’ if you want him, put a smile on your face and joyfully say, ‘Can I help you, sir or ma’am?’ That’s how we continue to do it.” Like his father, Dave also has memories dating back to boyhood. The Garden Bowl may have been a place where people came to have fun – a place that felt like a veritable playground for a pre-teen, but it was also a place where you rolled up your sleeves and pitched in. “I was working there from when I was 10 years old, cleaning the center up, cleaning the parking lots, emptying the trash,” says Dave. “Whatever he told us to do, you had to do it. I built up a great work ethic at a young age, and I think it has really benefitted me now.” It was under Dave’s stewardship that The Garden Bowl became the sight of the city’s first Rock-n-Bowl concert. A group of college kids were consistently coming from Wayne State University. On a Sunday night sometime during the mid-1980s, Dave approached the students and suggested a party in the center on an upcoming Saturday night. The idea was embraced by Elizabeth Raphael, a medical student and future emergency services physician in the San Francisco Bay area, who offered to find DJs and even DJ herself. While the college students hyped up the event to their friends, Dave Zainea passed out flyers at concert venues and papered cars. And, voila, Rock-n-Bowl was born in Michigan. “You couldn’t
nt desk work the fro to s ve lo ill Zainea st “Papa Joe”
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make it with league bowling anymore, so that saved our business,” said Dave “Two weeks earlier on a Friday night [before Rock-and-Bowl], we had maybe 40 or 50 people bowling. Now we’ve got 250 kids bowling and drinking and partying.” Dave remembers getting a phone call from his father the following morning. Finding the alley uncharacteristically messy after the event, Papa Joe asked his son about the mess. “I said, ‘Well, we didn’t get out of here until 4 a.m.’” Dave said. “Papa Joe is a very black and white guy. I told him, ‘Go open up the safe.’ [After checking] he said, ‘OK. Go back to bed.’ That was his way of saying, ‘All right. Nice job.’” The family that rolls together may indeed achieve goals together, but Dave admits that working with his kin isn’t always easy. “We have our moments,” he said. “We disagree, but we always support each other in the long term. We always come to a conclusion.” ❖
Evan Henerson is a features and lifestyle journalist who lives in Los Angeles. His work has appeared in TV Guide, American Theatre, Orange Coast and the Los Angeles Daily News where he was a staff writer and critic for nine years.
According to George his time of year, as Bowl Expo approaches, I always think back to the first time I attended — was it 12 or was it 13 years ago? There was a total of two exhibitors from the arcade/FEC world at that show. Take a look at this year’s exhibitor list; a quick scan shows a major presence from the entertainment side on the show floor. That’s a testament to the creative enhancement that entertainment has added to bowling. The BEC itself innovated on the traditional bowling center design, offerings, and audience appeal. On that last count, innovation attracted a wider, more diverse offering. Within the entertainment lineup, new game categories have emerged in recent years — think collectible card pushers and ticket cranes — to drive fun, excitement, and sales. Whole new technologies have been added: virtual reality, escape rooms, and, most recently, eSports. I recently visited the latest twist: The Virtual Room in Hollywood, CA, which combines VR and escape into a virtual escape room. The bowling sector itself is evolving. Its suitability as a fun attraction with wide appeal grows in nontraditional venues like hotel resorts and cinema-entertainment facilities. Even within the scoring platform, new ways to bowl are emerging, ie. the games menu Brunswick offers through its Sync software
or QubicaAMF’s HyperBowl. Whole new categories of bowling entertainment facilities are possible with string machines, flourishing in facilities like Punch Bowl Social and Pinz Mechanical. Much of this information will, quite literally, be on display on the Bowl Expo show floor and discussed in the usual quality seminars on the business issues. The seminar lineup includes an entire session devoted to escape rooms and a can’t-miss seminar on virtual and mixed reality conducted by Armando Lanuti of Creative Works. Our Beyond Bowling feature is a story on Christian Toulouse’s DiXtrAction BEC south of Quebec City, Canada. I finish up this edition with my interview of Michael Nowak of Rhode Island Novelty, Inc (RINCO). We think RINCO’s story is the perfect wrap-up to our innovation theme. Enjoy! ❖
George McAuliffe Principal, Pinnacle Entertainment Group
TRADE SHOW PREVIEW
Focusing In On Success Bowl Expo 2019 is the epicenter of innovation in the bowling industry By Howard McAuliffe
he 2019 Bowl Expo will be another exciting week of business and fun. The bowling industry is changing, and, most importantly, thriving. The Expo is a great place to learn what is new and exciting in the world of bowling. The keynote address from Aaron Rodgers is sure to be entertaining and thought provoking.
PINNACLE ENTERTAINMENT GROUP, Booth #242 www.grouppinnacle.com www.thepinnacleinsider.com Pinnacle Entertainment Group is a consulting firm that has helped nearly 200 bowling centers add arcades and other amusements to their facilities. There is no one-size-fits-all way to do this; each project is unique and requires a different mix of games and attractions. If you are considering developing an entertainment component to your center, stop by to discuss it with Howard and George. They also have a database of sales numbers on games, virtual reality, and other amusements. Stop and ask for hard information before making game purchases at the show.
BRUNSWICK BOWLING, Booth #149
www.brunswickbowling.com Brunswick has an exciting new product to announce at the show this year: Sync® Invicta. This is a major, new update to their highly successful Sync scoring and POS system. Stop by their booth and let Brunswick show you how this system will elevate the bowler experience, drive traffic, extend the length of stay, increase spending, and drive repeat visits. Here are a few exciting components of this system:
Open Lane Sync Invicta’s Open Lane™ is a single mobile app that makes it easier and more rewarding for customers to connect with your center. Users can join wait lists for lanes, the restaurant, or any other attraction; track and share their score achievements; earn loyalty rewards; and access specials and coupons. In addition, Open Lane encourages guests to leave a review on Facebook or Google before they even leave your center.
QUBICAAMF, Booth #747 www.QubicaAMF.com At this year’s Bowl Expo, QubicaAMF will be featuring new products in the product ecosystem based on their BES X Bowler Entertainment System. Visit their booth to see the newest features and products which utilize all new cloud and mobile technologies. If you have heard about HyperBowling (the 2018 IAAPA Brass Ring Award Winner for Best New Product) you can see these lanes in person at the show. If you will be at the show Monday, stop by their Sponsor Pavilion Seminar event on Monday, June 24, at 3:15 p.m. titled, “Experience the Future of Bowling with QubicaAMF.” It will be an exciting session and offer you an exclusive sneak peek of what will be unveiled on the trade show floor.
CREATIVE WORKS, Booth #537 www.thewoweffect.com Creative Works is a leader in creating cutting edge immersive attractions that include virtual reality, laser tag and mini golf theming, escape rooms, and eSports. Hologate has been the #1 virtual reality attraction in bowling entertainment centers. If you are looking to develop a bowling entertainment center or you want to take your existing center to the
TRADE SHOW PREVIEW next level, this company can help you elevate the overall project to another level.
INTERCARD, Booth #669 www.intercardinc.com Intercard is the global leader in play card systems and will be showing a new system for smaller arcades. The iTeller Element is a sleek, low cost, new system for centers with less than 30 games. The units are supported 24/7 like the rest of their products, so you can be comfortable you will have a system that is supported for years to come.
APPLE INDUSTRIES, Booth #601 www.faceplacephoto.com The reason that photo booths are thriving today is the experience they offer customers as a fun factor. Apple offers a wide variety of photo booth options including: compact or large size for group pictures; movie-themed photo booth; interactive videos; exclusive scene backgrounds; external screens; and custom-made design with your own branding. Additionally, all Apple photo booths have social media connectivity so your customers will promote your location while posting their photos on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. The newest model is the Face Place Marvel Adventure Lab. This new attraction transforms photos into comic art.
FETCHREV, Booth #455 www.FetchRev.com/Bowling FetchRev is an innovative marketing platform that can help your center sell products online and through mobile devices. FetchRev provides an offer to your customers which they buy as opposed to a coupon that is redeemed later. FetchRev can also help you gather customer information by setting up free wifi in your facility and train your staff to acquire customer information through various systems that are already in your facility.
the top performing games in the industry for the last year. This year they are releasing new games that can be operated on the same platform.
SHAFFER DISTRIBUTING, Booth #238 www.shafferdistributing.com If you are looking to purchase arcade games for your center, Shaffer Distributing is a leading arcade and redemption equipment supplier. Shaffer is a company that is actively managed by the fourth successive generation of family ownership. You can call the CEO on the phone if you ever need him, and he will answer or call back in short order. Shaffer has a trusted reputation throughout the amusement arcade and FEC industry. This is a company that has a passion and obsession for helping clients achieve the highest return on arcade equipment investment.
BENCHMARK GAMES, Booth #238 www.benchmarkgames.com Benchmark Games has some of the best new games and quickplay. Space Jump is a new game which is 100% skill-based interactive and physical play. Cadets must bounce on a launch pad and control their jumps to navigate a rocket. To successfully complete the mission, cadets must land on the Bonus planet to receive bonus ticket values. The unit has a centerpiece cabinet design within a modest footprint making it an ideal and value-priced attraction piece for any size game room. Space Jump boasts a new 13” monitor which displays game play instructions, an LED light package and illuminated scoring zones, and subwoofers for an immersive play experience with interactive sounds and player prompts. Operators appreciate that Space Jump is easily maintained, as there are no moving parts, other than the rocket itself. It features a reliable electrical system which is contained in a durable, non-skid jump pad and sturdy steel grip bars which can withstand vigorous tactile play. Space Jump provides a profitable outlet to allow younger patrons, who may otherwise run wild or bang relentlessly on equipment, to expel pent up energy during game play. ❖
LAI GAMES, Booth #133 www.laigames.com LAI Games is the maker of hit games like Let’s Bounce and the highly popular virtual reality (VR) game Virtual Rabbids. Virtual Rabbids is a VR game that does not require an attendant and has been one of 44
Howard McAuliffe is vice president of Pinnacle Entertainment Group. Pinnacle Entertainment Group has conceived, developed, and operated family entertainment businesses in every size and budget, and integrated in to many other business as both corporate executives and entrepreneurs. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ten Ways to Have Fun Christian Toulouse, Quebec’s other FEC pioneer, shows us how By Robert Sax
he Canadian province of Quebec has produced several entertainment entrepreneurs who have achieved great success in the world at large, most notably the circus innovator of Cirque du Soleil. But while Cirque du Soleil builds the first of its recentlyannounced CREACTIVE family entertainment centers near — sacre bleu! – Toronto, local hero Christian Toulouse has opened one of Quebec’s few modern FECs in Saint-Georges de Beauce, a small town in the predominantly French-speaking region south of Quebec City. Toulouse’s Centre DiXtrAction, while on a much more modest scale than CREACTIVE, is already making Quebec families happy. There aren’t many American-style FECs in Quebec and most of them are in the big city of Montreal. Their growth is hampered by several factors including a provincial law that prohibits redemption games and a lack of awareness of the FEC concept among amusement operators and consumers alike. “In Montreal, it’s starting to pop up a little bit, but you know, this is the metropolis of Quebec. If people are going to start something, it’s going to be here,” says Mark Buffa, CEO of Buffa Bowling, Canada’s largest bowling supplier. “Then it goes to Quebec City, and then it kind of pops away from there. 46
So that’s what’s pretty cool with what Christian did. He’s one of the first guys to do it, but he’s in a really, really small town.” A town of 33,000 people, Saint-Georges is a regional center known for its strong entrepreneurial culture. Built on agriculture and then timber, it is now an important manufacturing center for textiles, steel forgings, garage doors, bicycles and truck trailers. The majority of businesses are independently owned and residents generally prefer them to chain outlets of national brands. Saint Georges is also home to L’Ecole d’Entrepreneurship de Beauce, a business school that has nurtured many Quebec entrepreneurs. Christian Toulouse grew up outside the town on his family’s 400-acre dairy farm, where he developed the mechanical aptitude and business skills that would later serve him well as a bowling center proprietor. When the family sold the farm in the late 1990s, Toulouse went to work for Noel Routier, who had an eight-lane center in Saint-Georges. During the next five years, Toulouse learned how to fix pin-setters, Christian Toulouse
FEATURE maintain lanes, drill balls and more, becoming the general manager. Eventually he tried to buy out Routier but was turned down. He then purchased the other bowling center in town which he renamed Salles de Quilles Elite (Elite Bowling Center). He wanted to own the building rather than lease it however, so in 2004 he bought a property in the suburbs that housed a struggling 16-lane center. It became the new Salles de Quilles Elite. Toulouse succeeded in increasing business but also realized that traditional league bowling was in decline. He decided to offer additional attractions that would attract families, and, in 2010, he expanded the building to accommodate an elaborate play area for children. Dubbed Parc-o-Fun, it offers a maze, climbing
wall, ball play rooms and slides. He also added party rooms and arcade games, creating the first family entertainment center in the area. To better market his new concept, he changed the name of the place from Salles de Quilles Elite to Centre DiXtrAction, a play on words that roughly translates in English to “The Center with Ten Ways to Have Fun.” Bowling still represents about 25-30% of Toulouse’s business, and he can accommodate up to 100 bowlers at a time. For the growing numbers of casual bowlers, he offers videos on eight screens over the lanes as well as Moonlight bowling sessions with laser effects and music. Buffa supplied Toulouse with new
furniture and advised him on his operation. When Toulouse expressed an interest in learning more about FECs, Buffa took him to the 2017 IAAPA Expo for a crash course in family attractions, including site visits to Andretti Karting and TopGolf. Toulouse was especially inspired by a visit to the show booth of QubicaAMF, where CEO Manu Govoni exhorted visitors with the slogan “Let’s make bowling amazing!” He decided that his center had to be amazing as well and came home with a number of ideas for expanding his operation. Two years later, Toulouse removed eight lanes of bowling to install a 5,200square-foot, split-level laser tag attraction from Lasertron. It’s a full-on LED arena in which a computer controls lighting and 48
other effects that create a more intense and immersive play area than traditional black-light and painted theming. With 40 vests, Toulouse can accommodate two teams of up to 20 players each. The next-closest laser attraction is in Quebec City, 60 miles from SaintGeorges, so Toulouse has a big advantage in his market. So far, his lasertag business has been very strong, exceeding his initial projections by 50%. The laser arena at Centre DiXtrAction is Lasertron’s eighth installation in Canada, with two in Montreal, three in Vancouver and two in Ontario, including the new Kingpin Cambridge FEC (see IBI’s February 2019 issue.) Lasertron supplied Toulouse with a French language version of the briefing video that prepares players for their games as well as making some other customizations. “He has sign-in material in French,” says Greg Watches of Lasertron. “including the waiver for the location.” While the phrases emitted by the vests, such as “Nice tag!”, are only available in English, in-game announcements such as player and team updates are translated live by bilingual referees in the arena, so even players with limited fluency in English can play the game without any hindrance, according to Watches. Centre DiXtrAction offers more than 55 arcade games, most of which are unlimited play for a flat $10 admission fee or are included in the many party and package deals they offer. Toulouse does it this way because of current provincial laws that require operators to pay hefty annual license fees for each game if they are pay-to-play. He has been very outspoken about the need to change these laws, which also require him to pay for permits to operate the pin-setters for his bowling operation, as well as his billiard tables. “In business, [the Quebecois] are a people harassed by our government,” he told the Journal de Montreal newspaper last year. “Just with my 44 arcade games at $343 each, it cost me over $15,000 a year, so I chose to put it all free, so I would not have to pay that bill to the government.” He has called on the Quebec Liquor, Racing and Games Board to change its regulations to keep in step with changes in the family entertainment business. The Board has said it will take a look at the situation but has yet to make any changes. Centre DiXtrAction offers alcoholic beverages including wine and beer, but Toulouse has so far resisted upgrading his snack bar to a full-service restaurant. Instead he has arranged with two popular restaurants nearby to deliver customer orders to the center within 15 minutes. The food 50
choices include sandwiches, barbecue chicken, and pizza. He uses an outside caterer for his party business. Customer response to the new center has been very good. League bowlers were initially skeptical but Toulouse won them back, and he has also been drawing to afternoon leagues. But the main reason his business has grown is the many entertainment options he now has for the casual customer. “We offer an alternative to people, who are now saying ‘Let’s go to Centre DiXtrAction and let’s pick and choose what we want to do when we get there,” says Toulouse. “It’s a place where they can satisfy the needs of the entire family all under one roof.” Will there be additional Centres DiXtrAction?
Christian Toulouse prepares to tackle the show floor at his first IAAPA Amusement Expo in 2017. (Photo courtesy of Mark Buffa)
Toulouse has a head start and has differentiated his center in the market. But he estimates that replicating Centre DiXtrAction would require a building of at least 25,000 square feet, and he also wants to own the land. With an estimated budget of seven to ten million dollars, local banks are reluctant to lend money for a business they are unfamiliar with. If he can find the right private financing, however, he would like to build another one. Even with only one FEC, Toulouse is still ahead of Cirque du Soleil in Quebec, which gives him at least temporary bragging rights in their home market. That’s the entrepreneurial spirit of Christian Toulouse and Saint-Georges de Beauce. ❖
Robert Sax is a writer and PR consultant in Los Angeles. He grew up in Toronto, Canada, the home of five-pin bowling.
Bringing a World of Fun A few minutes with Michael Nowak of Rhode Island Novelty, Inc.
By George McAuliffe Editor’s Note: Michael Nowak is a principal of Rhode Island Novelty, Inc. (RINCO), the FEC industry’s largest distributor of redemption and related merchandise. In addition to being the low-price leader, RINCO features the broadest variety of redemption merchandise and serves multiple industries, bringing many resources to FECs.
1. Tell us about your company. Why is Rhode Island Novelty, Inc. in business? We initially got into the business because we saw a big demand for novelty items for attractions. When [done] well, it enhanced the player experience. We found we were good at identifying and sourcing products for theme parks and parades and took that expertise to the FEC world as those facilities developed and as arcades added redemption and cranes.
2. RINCO has been in the business since 1986. To what do you attribute the longevity and success of the company? A couple of things. First, we believe in really good business discipline. We take our time in considering strategic moves, such as product selection. We are very intentional. We want to ensure that we stay true to our core beliefs. Second, we are always listening to customers. Our team is often on the road, seeing what is going on out there, pounding the pavement, and talking to customers.
3. What’s your advice to readers to help them stay relevant long term? Those two principles just mentioned can work for any business. Our customers are in the business of entertaining their customers, the players. Having core beliefs on how best to do that, while constantly listening to feedback from customers, will serve them well and keep them attractive to the marketplace.
4. How did you personally get into the business? I grew up in it. My dad, Bob Nowak, is the founder and CEO of the company. I did odd jobs [at the company] through middle school and high school; [I] probably [did] a little of every job we have. When I went to college, I thought I didn’t want to be in the business. I taught for a few years before doing
INTERESTING INTERVIEW business consulting with Fortune 500 companies. But I missed the company and the business. I missed working with the variety of customers from FECs to carnivals to theme parks. I like the fact that our business puts smiles on people’s faces, and I thought I could take my corporate experience and contribute. 5. How does your corporate experience translate to the redemption merchandise business? I think it’s finding the pain points and coming up with solutions. For me, I saw the need for more structure and organization, as well as good processes in our company. We focused internally on tightening processes. We have thousands of items, an international supply chain, and we are a growth company. In the corporate world, I saw what it took when a company doubled the number of employees, or added a product line, or grew organically. When anything doubles, it’s time to rethink how it’s done, restructure how you do business. The right growth mindset means never thinking that the way you always did it is the way you do in the future — that won’t get you to the next level.
6. What keeps you in this business? A lot of things. I genuinely like the people I work with. It’s fun to be with a group of people who collaborate well. There’s a lot of energy as we bounce ideas off of each other. Our team is very good at focusing on the customer experience, making it better is the #1 priority, rather than just defending ideas. I love the variety of customers we serve around the world and in different facility types. Yes, we’re a merchandise supplier, but we like to get our hands dirty, to understand how the customer’s business works, and to walk in their shoes.
7. What’s the state of redemption today? It’s growing without a doubt. From a global perspective, I see the seriousness of management, especially noticeable among younger managers, getting involved in the business. Fun really is becoming a serious business with more common business standards and best practices.
8. What three things should FEC management know for a successful redemption program? Data: running reports and doing analysis that illuminates business. Analytical rigor is incredibly important to test and validate assumptions. Know your product: how does the game room work? How 54
can you ‘push the levers’ to keep the entertainment experience fresh? Value: are you giving a good value from games and merchandise? How does price interact with attendance patterns? Are you giving good value back to generate repeats?
9. The FEC audience is, thankfully, getting older. Would you agree its not just about kids anymore? How does RINCO address the older customer in terms of merchandise mix? Absolutely. We see that, without a doubt. We have made it more of a priority to design, develop, and source products that meet the older audience’s needs. We’ve added a line of outdoor games like flip cup and beer pong. We have extensive electronics, beach items, and joke novelties which all go over well with Millennials and other adult groups.
10. What can we expect from RINCO in the future? What is your vision for the next five years? You will definitely see us relying more on technology to give the customer what they want, how they want it. We will continue to stay out front on trends which, with today’s short attention spans, is more challenging now than ever.
11. Any other wisdom you care to share for our readers? When it comes to running a business, the simple things are often important, but they don’t get the attention they deserve. That happens at RINCO too, we’re working to get better. Devoting the time and resources to communicating effectively with customers means you first have to understand your employees. Finally, don’t assume employees know what to expect. So many companies think employees know how to proceed but you really can’t overcommunicate as you rally a team around a common goal. ❖ Thanks, Michael. We wish you the best for continued success.
George McAuliffe has operated family entertainment centers from 2,000 to 150,000 square feet as a corporate executive and entrepreneur. As a consultant he has helped hundreds of clients add or improve redemption game rooms and FEC attractions. He is currently the principal of Pinnacle Entertainment Group whose clients include Embed, Redemption Plus, and Shaffer Distributing Company. He writes for RePlay and International Bowling Industry magazines and speaks at FEC industry conferences.
Sleeping Like A King (Pin) New suite at the Palms Casino Resort will have everyone bowling.
By Patty Heath
lanning a trip to Vegas? The Palms Casino Resort has been renovating since 2016, and they are now offering two of the most luxurious suites around, the Hardwood and Kingpin suites. Let’s jump right to the Kingpin, because it’s all about bowling, while the Hardwood is basketball. Offering a ‘70s vibe à la the movie Kingpin, this one-of-a-kind experience has bowling lanes in the living room, complete with shoes, balls, and an automatic scoring system. There is a starburst ceiling lamp and technicolor paintings. From his painting, Woody Harrelson watches over the room and the action. Per night? $15,000. For bowling aficionados, it should be added to the bucket list. ❖
Ticket Station V2 with Token Eater/Card Redemption Station upgrade is now available from Benchmark Games. This new Ticket Station fits any size FEC and is particularly valuable to the small footprint FEC operator, allowing locations to customize. Here are some of the innovative updates: adaptable card swipe and thermal printer within the same station; accepts and recognizes tickets of different lengths, values, and bar codes; counterfeit mode will automatically shred and not count competitors’ paper tickets; ease of programming, updating, and customizing with kits available; and new curb appeal with monitors, light effects, and sounds. All these features will facilitate flexibility to change and upgrade to meet evolving needs without incurring additional investment. For Bowl Expo attendees, operators can include a Redemption Station side within their Ticket Station cabinet, eliminating a separate kiosk. For more info, visit benchmarkgames.com.
APPS THAT WORK
Brunswick has announced a significant update to the Sync Scoring and Management System. Sync Invicta will keep guests on-site longer and returning more often. The update provides more information to guests, including how long a game takes to play, leading to a more positive guest experience. It also reduces staff intervention, increases guest loyalty, and helps centers attract group events. Sync Invicta also introduces Open Lane, a custom mobile app that makes it easier and more rewarding to connect with your center. Open Lane users can sign on to wait lists, make reservations, track and share score achievements, access specials and coupons, and much more! Visit brunswickbowling.com for more information.
ATTENDANT-FREE VR ATTRACTION
PARTS & SUPPLIES
Managing parts and supply orders for your center doesn’t have to be frustrating. You lose time hunting down part numbers, risk spending money on the wrong parts and then still need to juggle when you’ve placed multiple orders. Now there is a better way to buy! QubicaAMF introduces eShop where ordering parts and center supplies just go amazingly easy. The QubicaAMF eShop offers easy ways to find the parts you need quickly, ensure they’re the right parts, and manage your purchases efficiently. Get started today by visiting: eshop.qubicaamf.com.
LAI Games’ Virtual Rabbids: The Big Ride is being called the #1 earning attraction at bowling centers nationwide, a breakthrough in exciting new technology, one of the best ROIs in the industry, and a must-have for every game room. Later this year, it will get even bigger with three exciting new adventures! Virtual Rabbids is the first attendant-free VR attraction in the industry, featuring the wild and wacky Rabbids. Players can choose from three unique experiences, full of twists, turns, thrills and spills, for an all-ages VR attraction that lives up to the hype. Premium components include HTC Vive headsets, a D-BOX motion platform, dynamic wind simulation and hi-fi audio. For more information, visit www.laigames.com/virtual-rabbids.
PHOTO BOOTHS ADD PAZAZZ
Are you looking for a new revenue stream to increase your profits while offering your customers a fun experience? Don’t look any further; contact Apple Industries today! Choose our preferred photo booth from our wide range of innovative products: compact or large size for group pictures; movie-themed photo booth; interactive videos and exclusive scene backgrounds; external screens; and custom-made design with your own branding! Additionally, all our photo booths have social media connectivity, so your customers will promote your location while posting their photos on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram! Everyone will be thrilled to capture a fun moment in your photo booth and cherish the photo as a keepsake. Hundreds of bowling locations are already enjoying all the benefits of having a FACE PLACE photo booth. Have you heard of the FACE PLACE Marvel Adventure Lab? This new attraction is truly unique and amazing! Your photo is transformed into comic art, so you can become part of a customized comic book cover or story and pose alongside your favorite Marvel characters— Spiderman, Captain Marvel, Thor, Black Panther, Captain America, Guardians of the Galaxy, The Avengers, Iron Man, and the Hulk. Email Apple Industries today for more information at email@example.com.
BMI Merchandise recognizes how players today want to shop, touch, and feel the merchandise in a fresh, retail environment before choosing their prize. BMI’s professional team of designers can help you transform your redemption space into an inviting guest experience. To start, their design team will complete a detailed digital plan-o-gram exactly to your specs and dimensions, including a merchandise assortment to excite your players. They will also accommodate all your existing prizes. Next, BMI can send their professional merchandisers to your location to convert your redemption space to a retail-ready store at no charge.
Steltronic continues to roll out its newest scoring system, the NEX level of achievement, and the response has been tremendous! The development team, along with the Steltronic patented 3-D graphics department, has released Focus-NEX, a totally new bowling center automatic scoring system. Additionally, Vision-NEX will accompany the newest front desk and back office management software, with a newly designed set of themes that have WOW factor builtin with the ultimate bowling experience. Advertising from within the 3-D animations was recently released in February—another software upgrade from Steltronic, the company that insists software updates should be free! For more information (800) 942-5939 or firstname.lastname@example.org. “We are YOUR bowling center management specialists since 1980.”
From the most trending prizes to retail-ready, onsite setups, BMI can help you increase your guest experience and your profits! For more information, contact email@example.com or call (800) 272-6375.
PROFILE By Marci Williams
Newman University bowling coach Billy Murphy
COACH Billy Murphy makes Newman University and the sport of bowling proud.
ction rphy in a u M h c a Co
IBI May 2019
ewman University is a small Catholic college (enrollment 2,746 in 2010) in Wichita, KS, about eight miles or a mere ten minutes away from better known Wichita State University. But there’s something very special that Newman University has that Wichita State does not; in fact, Newman has something that many other NCAA schools with successful bowling programs (such as Florida State, McKendree University, Morehead State University, San Jose State, to name a few) don’t have: a bowling coach in their hall of fame! Sadly, many NCAA and NAIA schools don’t even list bowling as a sport on their hall of fame nomination forms. This story is about Billy Murphy’s journey from Wichita State University (WSU) bowler to Hall of Fame coach. Billy bowled for the WSU Shockers and was a three-time collegiate All-American; his team made the finals for collegiate nationals all four years, finishing second three times and third once. Outside of collegiate bowling, his team won the Brunswick World Team Challenge Grand Championship twice. After college, he started his pro shop business and continued making some extra cash with his bowling talent. He was inducted into the Great Plains USBC Hall of Fame, next to his brother, Chad, and cousin, Lonnie Waliczek, in 2010. In the meantime, in 2003 on the other side of Wichita, Newman University knew bowling could have a very positive economic impact on a smaller college, so they decided to start a bowling program. Once they located a venue in Wichita that would be a supporting home center for their teams, they reached out to Billy to interview for the job. Billy laughed as he admitted it was his first job interview, and none of the questions were about bowling but rather all about values, beliefs, etc. He was offered the job on the spot with the idea that it would be another year before Billy could recruit enough bowlers to get started. Billy surprised them: he already had 11 bowlers and was ready to start! He had a few from WSU who were good players but not getting a chance to compete, a few from junior colleges, and a couple who were just passionate about bowling. By the time August arrived, he started the program with 17 bowlers – 11 men and six women. Newman Universit y 2018-2 019 men ’s bowlin g team
PROFILE Billy worked part-time for seven or eight years and admitted that, if you divided the number of hours he worked by the amount he made, he averaged about $2 an hour! His main source of income was his multiple pro shops. Around 2012, Billy approached Newman University about making his job a full-time position, but it was not in their budget at that time. Billy provided them with an economic impact report and also a job offer he had from another school; their minds were changed, and he was offered a full-time job in a matter of days. Billy now has 30 to 40 bowlers every year and still runs his two pro shops which are manned by current and former bowlers. He has hired assistant coaches who are all former bowlers and still passionate about the sport and want to give back. Fast-forward: Newman University’s women’s team ranks 4th in national appearances. From the beginning of the program, they have been in every top 20 coaches poll. The men’s team bowled for a national title the third year of the
Coach Murphy at work at his pro shop
program and have had seven national appearances overall. All in all, Newman University has 27 tournament titles and three individual national championships. Interestingly, with all of that success, when scouting, Billy says very few recognize the name Newman University. When people learn where Newman is located, one of the most asked questions is about the rivalry with Wichita State University. Billy quickly said, “Everyone is trying to be what WSU is and has been.” But Billy also clearly stated that the teams and coaches are friends; they travel together and they are happy if one of the teams is hoisting the trophy on the way home. When asked about Billy’s induction into the Newman University Hall of Fame, Gordon Vadakin, the 64
IBI May 2019
wling team 18-2019 women’s bo Newman University 20
beloved WSU coach, said, “It was a true honor for me to see Coach Murphy’s induction into the Newman University Hall of Fame. It’s very, very obvious how much they value the awesome work he’s done.” Billy doesn’t care if a 130 average bowler wanted to be on the team; he’ll take anyone passionate about the sport. He sees it as his job and his pleasure to teach them, to make them better, and to foster lifelong bowlers. He spends one-on-one time with every bowler every week. Every bowler gets to compete at the events that include a Tier 2 competition. Billy’s favorite part of his job as coach is teaching, and recollected that his grandfather, uncle, and his college coach Gordon Vadakin had all taught him so much. Coaching is a way to for Billy to stay competitive, help kids achieve their goals, and give back. Least favorite part? Paperwork! In his Hall of Fame speech, he said his coaching experience is a communal experience, calling it “our story, our journey,” and said no one person achieves Hall-of-Fame status alone; it’s the kids who perform on the lanes and in the classroom and have the passion. Billy is always quick to give credit to others and openly states that he wouldn’t be where he is without the support of Frank and Cathy DeSocio, owners of Northrock Lanes and West Acres Bowl, but Cathy strongly stated, “He owes his success to his own hard work.” Wichita is glad and proud that Newman University bucks the norm and views bowling as a sport and values what Billy Murphy has done for the school, but the true winners are the kids who have the pleasure to bowl for him and learn so much about life through a wonderful sport. Billy is a Hall of Fame bowler, a Hall of Fame coach, and, most importantly, a Hall of Fame friend and mentor. Coach Murphy made the leap from extraordinary bowler in his own right to extraordinary coach. ❖ Ms. Williams worked at Learjet Inc. (now Bombardier Learjet) for 33 years before retiring in 2005 as a corporate tax accountant. She served on the USBC board of directors for nine years, the BPAA board of directors for four years and the BVL board of directors for seven years. Her high game is a 300, and she is a proud supporter of the Wichita State and Newman University bowling programs.
CLASSIFIEDS EQUIPMENT FOR SALE NEW & USED Pro Shop Equipment. Jayhawk Bowling Supply. (800) 255-6436 or jayhawkbowling.com. REPAIR & EXCHANGE. Call for details (248) 375-2751.
EQUIPMENT WANTED LANE MACHINES WANTED. We will purchase your KEGEL-built machine, any age or condition. Call (608) 764-1464.
EDUCATION & TRAINING PRO SHOP TRAINING. Classes always forming. Jayhawk Bowling Supply (800) 255-6436 or jayhawkbowling.com.
CENTERS FOR SALE ILLINOIS: BUSY 20-lane center in excellent condition, strong consistent earnings (solid leagues and parties), pro shop, and snack bar. Real estate included. Ken Paton (503) 645-5630. CANADA, Carman, Manitoba: 8-lane, 5-pin center with 6 Brunswick 81 5-string pinsetters & 2 Double Diamond 2B freefall pinsetters. Includes snack area, alcohollicensed, and 5,950 square-foot building. $250,000. Call Kos Realty (204) 745-7710. NE PENNSYLVANIA: 8-lane center. Includes commercial rentals, great location & great opportunity. Owner retiring. Center4sale@yahoo.com. NEBRASKA: 16-lane center in a nice town, Ogallala. Remodeled bar and kitchen. Asking 250K. Contact Jacob. cornhuskerlanesNE@gmail.com.
SERVICES AVAILABLE Drill Bit Sharpening and Measuring Ball Repair. Jayhawk Bowling Supply. (800) 255-6436 or jayhawkbowling.com.
EQUIPMENT FOR SALE 20 Lane Package 82-90 XLi Edge Pinspotters u Full Qubica/AMF SPL lanes package with extras u BESX Qubica scoring system with a 10 station Micros POS system interfaced u Advanced audio and video package u
PROPRIETORS WITH AMF 82-70 S.S. & M.P. MACHINES Save $$ on P.C. Boards Exchange & Repair!
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WORK HARD; PLAY HARD
ork hard, play hard, and enjoy Kessler American Blended Whiskey. That’s the message in this 1982 ad. However, there’s a subliminal message as well – enjoying means bowling. The clues? Pins lurking in the background, a team trophy in hand, and bowling shoes topped with argyle socks. It’s all there! In 1982, bowling was beginning to trend down, but it was still the common denominator that brought people together. The Kessler Company, in Lawrenceburg, IN, relied on that to promote its product. Bowling works! It always has, and, even with ups and downs, it’s still the draw for fun and camaraderie. ❖ - Patty Heath